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INTRODUCTION
PROLOGUE
CHAPTER I - THE SWORD
CHAPTER II - MORAVIA
CHAPTER III - MARHAT
CHAPTER IV - TRIBECH
CHAPTER V - THE ARROW
CHAPTER VI – NITRAVA
CHAPTER VII - BOGATYGRAD
CHAPTER VIII – CLOTHAR
CHAPTER IX - DAGOBERT
CHAPTER X - RETALIATION
EXPLANATORY NOTES


CHAPTER IX - DAGOBERT

Another two years have passed. Drahomir’s and Vladislav’s sons reached seven years of age. They were not children anymore and this required the ceremony of trimming of their hair. With this ceremony they shifted from their mothers’ care to the upbringing by their fathers.

Samo was discussing matters with Nitrava’s nobility when Ragnahar approached him. “Samo, Dagobert’s envoy is requesting an audience. He’s waiting for you in the throne room,” said Ragnahar.

“So we shouldn’t let him wait,” replied Samo and both went to the throne room. Frankish envoy Sicarius was waiting for them together with the young Fredegar as his accompaniment.

“I welcome you to Nitrava, one of my many seats. With whom do I have the honor?” asked Samo and sat on the throne.

“Honorable Samuel, I go by the name Sicarius. King Dagobertus sent me to discuss serious matters with you,” replied Sicarius. “Your people attacked, slaughtered and robbed several Frankish trade caravans! Our king demands restitutions for such crimes!” he continued.

“I feel sorrow while hearing these news. However, I did not give orders to perform deeds that you’re accusing me of and I was never informed that these acts occurred in our lands,” stated Samo.

“You’re lying!” shouted Sikharius so loudly that even Fredegar looked at him surprised.

“That’s an extremely rash assumption. Weigh your words, honorable Sicarius,” replied Samo.

“We should investigate the matter and …” he continued and was interrupted by Sicarius.

“No! You will pay our king what you owe him! You and your people are bound to our king!” shouted the Frankish envoy in anger.

“Ha ha,” Samo laughed. “Even the ground we’re walking on and air we breathe belongs to Dagobert. Even we belong to him,” replied Samo sarcastically. “Only if he’s willing to maintain our friendship,” he added with a serious tone.

“There’s no way for Christians, servants of the one true God, to live in terms of friendship with dogs like you and your followers,” replied Sicarius loosing his senses.

“If you are servants of God and we are God’s dogs, then we dare to tear you up with our teeth,” replied Samo and he let Sikharius to be expelled from Nitrava.

As Sicarius and Fredegar were leaving Nitrava, Samo said to Ragnahar: “He came here to start a war. Now we can expect the worst. Ragnahar, I’m grateful for your service, but if you wish to return home, I will understand that.”

“This is my home and I will serve you till I die,” replied Ragnahar. “I never really respected Dagobert and now, according to information coming from Frankish lands, he even disrupted relations with the Austrasian nobility. If he continues with his approach, he will loose everything,” added Ragnahar.

When Dagobert found out about Samo’s words towards his envoy, he allowed his armies that were already prepared for an invasion near the borders, to attack Venedian lands. It wasn’t so difficult to gain support for a campaign against pagans and everything was prepared before Sicarius even set foot onto Venedian land.

The full-scale invasion took place in three main streams. Northern army consisting of Austrasians, central army consisting of Alemannes and southern army consisting of Lombards. Half of Europe’s strength trying to conquer its neighbours, the fearless Venedians.

The attacking powers were simply too overwhelming. Invading forces pillaged settlements, destroyed whole fields with crops and took numbers of Venedian people into slavery. They advanced deep into the heartland and soon they stood in front of the gates of Bogatygrad and Diyagrad.

Frankish and Lombardian forces encircled these cities and thus started the siege that would get down in history as an important turning point of the conflict. At this moment, however, no one knew the outcome.

Right before the surrounding, Vladislav, together with few of his horsemen coming from Preslav, was able to slip through and reach Bogatygrad. Vladislav had to defend Preslav earlier from the invading Lombards, who advanced through all of Carantania and when they turned north towards Moravia, Vladislav couldn’t just stand by and wait for what was going to happen and he left the defense of Preslav in the hands of Carantania’s chieftain Valluk.

“This is it. Now our fate is going to be decided,” said Samo.

“Defenders of our lands!” shouted Samo towards the soldiers prepared to wage the battle of their lifetime. “Today you won’t fight for glory or fortune. Today you’ll fight for survival of your loved ones and everything your ancestors accomplished. It’s either this or slavery!” he continued.

“So bring out everything that’s left. Have no mercy because they won’t have mercy with you and your families. Gods stand on our side and we will defeat these invaders!” Samo finished his energizing speech and the soldiers screamed: “Hurraa, Hurraa, Hurraa!”

As the attack was going to start, Alemannian soldiers carried a body to the forefront and dumped it on the ground. Samo and his scholars realized that it’s the body of their fellow comrade in arms, Ragnahar. “They must have captured and killed him,” said Samo out loud and he added: “We will revenge his death!”

Ragnahar was lured out of Bogatygrad the night before by one of his trustworthy soldiers with false information regarding the capture and holding of Ragnahar’s parents hostage. Ragnahar’s plan was to free them and in the heat of the moment he forgot to inform his superiors. This mistake proved itself fateful. Ragnahar rushed into a trap and his journey ended there.

Franks used wooden walls on wheels to get closer to the main wall of Bogatygrad. The archery fight started. Both sides sprayed vaste amounts of arrows on the other side. Clouds started to cover the sky as Vladislav climbed up the highest tower, prepared his miraculous bow and quiver given to him by gods. He reached for the empty quiver and a glowing arrow appeared in his hand. As it was glowing it changed its blue colour into bright white and back to blue.

Vladislav stretched the bow and shot a long arrow over the attacking Frankish soldiers, right into the Frankish reserves waiting to get some action. Frankish soldiers were surprised that this arrow is flying such a distance but they were able to avoid it and the arrow hit the ground. As the soldiers were laughing, thunderbolts started to hit them in a wide radius. After a while the smell of burned meat hit Bogatygrad and other Frankish and Lombardian forces that were shocked with what they saw.

Drahomir did not want to slob around. So he turned himself into a werewolf, jumped over the city’s main wall and ran towards the Austrasian troops. They were prepared for anything except a huge beast, which was in their minds most probably immortal, attacking them and throwing their helpless bodies around the place.

The werewolf pierced the first line of soldiers and advanded deep in the army’s center. There it took a soldier in its jaws and threw him into a group of shocked soldiers. Panic broke out and Austrasians started running away from battle. The attackers retreated for now.

Second day of the battle went on more or less the same way and the attacking armies were rapidly loosing their morale and numbers. But Dagobert kept on pushing his commanders to unreasonably risky actions and the battlefield was filled with dead bodies.

During the night Samo organized a counter-offensive, where Venedian forces attacked enemy army camps which further undermined their morale.

On the third day of the battle there was silence everywhere. Samo sent scouts to check out enemy positions and they found out that the army camps are empty. Their enemies left lots of supplies on the spot. They were in a hurry to get away from this nightmare. And from those that retreated a large part desserted the ranks and thus further weakened Dagobert’s options.

MORENA was looking forward to this siege. She saw lots of souls for her to take care of. And now she was furious. “Again they fooled me!” she thought to herself and decided to get her retribution a different way.

After tie siege was lifted, there was no time and place for celebrations. People mourned those that didn’t survive and the city was preparing iself for an important burial. The whole city gathered at the main square where Ragnahar’s body was lying on wooden logs. The Zhrets lit the logs on fire and people waited in complete silence until the mighty force of the fire took Ragnahar’s body.

As the people focused on the burial, MORENA opened a portal in the middle of the city and went after Kvetoslava, because she had a wicked plan with her. Drahomir sensed her presence right away and when she came to the place of celebration, she approached Kvetoslava, grabbed her and dragged her away. Noone was able to see this except for Drahomir. People only noticed a large number of crows on nearby buildings. Drahomir got angry, transformed himself into a werewolf and started to chase the mad goddess of death.

MORENA quickly opened a portal to the underworld and as she wanted to leap inside the gate, the werewolf jumped on the goddess and bit her scythe. However MORENA was able to get away even though without her scythe. The portal closed itself right away. People of Bogatygrad surrounded Drahomir as he changed back into a person and mourned after his Kvetoslava. “Why did you take her away!” he shouted into the ground.

The goddess brought Kvetoslava to VELES and told him that the mortal is a gift and she will serve him for eternity. VELES accepted the gift and ordered Kvetoslava to take care of all the animals in the underworld.

Drahomir knew that nothing is lost yet. He wanted to pick up MORENA’s scythe but he wasn’t able to do it. The scythe was usable only by gods. PERUN sent the goddess of love, LADA, to help Drahomir.

As the beautiful goddess appeared in front of Drahomir, all the people of Bogatygrad were astounded. LADA picked up the scythe, slashed the ground wide open into a new portal and said to Drahomir: “Follow your heart.” Drahomir jumped inside the portal and disappeared.

PERUN was still furious. MORENA went behind his back and took a human whose time did not come yet. So he summoned the goddess of death in his palace.

“You broke the rules that have been laid down for you and for this you have to be punished!“ he spoke and MORENA listened without making a noise. “You’ll be forbidden to take any souls of believers till three winters pass,” he ordered and MORENA nodded totally ashamed. Then PERUN took the scythe brought by LADA and broke it on his knee.

“SVAROG will craft you a new one when the time comes,” concluded PERUN.

Drahomir came down the stairs that had thousands of steps and found himself in a place covered with pure darkness. It was awfully quiet. He looked around and saw something in the distance. As he got closer he realized that it’s the gate to the underworld and became happy to see it.

But that moment passed quickly. NIY, guardian of the underworld appeared in front of him. NIY took the form of a three-headed beast that looked like a wolf. The beast was huge and had red eyes with enormous jaws and claws. Drahomir changed into a werewolf and a bloody fight emerged. It had no end. Both were hurt really badly and it was then that Drahomir bit into one of NIY’s necks, lifted him into the air and tossed him into the darkness.

The gate to the underworld opened, Drahomir stepped inside and found himself in a wide pasture. There was no Sun but the pastures had plenty of daylight. Lots of animals were walking by and it looked like the pasture had no end. And indeed these pastures were endless. It was the underworld ruled by the god VELES.

Drahomir walked around a bit and then he saw a pathway heading to a small forest. So he followed it and as he was entering the forest, he saw a shiny lengthy palace which stunned him. Wild animals guarded the entrance. As Drahomir approached them the doors opened and he stepped inside a huge throne room. Sitting on the throne was no one else than VELES himself and right next to him was Kvetoslava.

“Drahomir, come closer. You’ve proven your bravery and love. I had to accept MORENA’s gift, but I cannot keep your wife here. Her and your time will come but not now. Your curse will be revoked as well. Go and live a long and fulfilling life,” said VELES aware of Drahomir’s strength and therefore relieved because of his decision to revoke his curse.

“Thank you, mighty VELES,” replied Drahomir, bowed down and left the palace with Kvetoslava. While standing in front of the main gate, Drahomir turned to Kvetoslava and kissed her.


INTRODUCTION
PROLOGUE
CHAPTER I - THE SWORD
CHAPTER II - MORAVIA
CHAPTER III - MARHAT
CHAPTER IV - TRIBECH
CHAPTER V - THE ARROW
CHAPTER VI – NITRAVA
CHAPTER VII - BOGATYGRAD
CHAPTER VIII – CLOTHAR
CHAPTER IX - DAGOBERT
CHAPTER X - RETALIATION
EXPLANATORY NOTES